Private schools to benefit from COVID-19 intervention funds

THE Federal Government of Nigeria has approved that private schools across the country will benefit from a N2.3 trillion stimulus package it recently announced to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown.

Tribune Education recalls that government also approved a N50 billion single-digit loan available through the Central Bank of Nigeria.

The inclusion of private schools was a product of engagements with the Economic Sustainability Committee of the federal government chaired by the vice president, Professor Yemi Osinbajo.

Disclosing this on Monday during a virtual press conference, the national president of the National Association of Proprietors of Private Schools (NAPPS), Yomi Otubela, said the justification for requesting palliatives from the government was as a result of the effect of the abrupt closure of schools by the government to protect students from the pandemic.

He said the prolonged school closure had brought “untold hardship” to private school owners who rely heavily on school fees to pay staff salaries, offset operational costs and repay loans obtained from various financial institutions.

Otubela described the inclusion of private schools in the N2.3 trillion stimulus package as a welcome development, saying the fund would save the private education subsector from imminent collapse as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He also appealed to the federal government to reconsider its decision to withdraw the participation of Nigerian schools in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and halt reopening schools due to safety concerns.

He noted that the decision might introduce emotional trauma in SSS3 students.

“For this reason, we will advise the government to deploy the services of clinical psychologists to evaluate the state of minds of these students whenever they are ready to sit for these examinations due to mental trauma that will arise as a result of the suspension of these examinations after rigorous preparations by students and knowing full well that their counterparts in other countries will be taking the examination,” he said.

Also, he expressed fears that Nigerian students may be forced to seek an alternative way of writing these examinations by approaching neighbouring countries.

The private school proprietors also expressed fears that a prolonged closure might make the majority of students lose interest in education and embrace social vices inimical to their wellbeing and public safety as well.

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